Saturday, December 18, 2010

Drop It Like It's Hot

Hello everyone, sorry that I am posting this so late in the day.  The last week has been very rough for me as I am not feeling very well and this is why the postings has been so light lately.  As per usual, you will find a list of posts that I found interesting reading this week.  Please show these bloggers some love and check them out.  When you are done, don't forget to drop it like it's hot and leave your link in the comment section.

So what if half of Europe is fat?
AIDS Awareness Month: A Plea for Personal Responsibility Over Blaming Bi-Sexual Men
Exotic Beauties vs. Regular Black Girls
Why Barack Won't Get Angry
Exemption from criticism not one of the five freedoms
Asking for it? As If!
Paper Shines Bright Light Into India's Brothels
No Authority but Oneself:  The Anarchist Feminist Philosophy of Autonomy and Freedom
Microaggressions in Everyday Life
Elitism On A Food Stamp Budget?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Breathing As The 'Eternal She'

Jaded16 is a Radical Feminist from India. She writes a humour blog Oi With The Poodles Already’, attempting to make her world a little woman-friendly using healthy doses of irony and sarcasm to de-condition the Indian masses. It is at times like these when she loses all her sense of humour and starts looking for a rock big enough to live under.
As a DustyLady who completely and absolutely hates restrictive dichotomies, more often than not I'm squeezed into a tiny box of stereotypes so tight I eventually grow claustrophobic and completely disinterested, barely an inch away from completely disengaging myself from these situations. As Women Of The Broken World, we're supposed to be either poor, limitless, undeniably open to possession and incredibly in tune with Nature or Gramsci's little organic intellectuals, capable of seeing through oppression enough to elevate one's status to an Earth Goddess, imparting wisdom on every stone; while the dusty realities of who we really are conveniently effaced. Sometimes I just need to read an article like this one and hear  distinctive popping sound in the vicinity of my temporal lobes and hope fruitlessly it's going to end soon. And no, sometimes, even caffeine doesn't help. Just reading opinions like "I like women from countries that have sustained political turmoil," makes me want to pack every book I possess, a vat of coffee and just go live in a cave till this blimp called 'civilization' is over. In which way can you say Assange isn't being an arsehole excluding the one that implies cultural appropriation and tokenism is a sign for appreciation? If you can figure that one out, let me know.

Assange translated for everyone -- courtesy Of the Privilege Denying Dude
Once the urge to puke at his every word went away -- by the fifth or so read -- one thing that becomes clear is the cast of the 'Eternal She'¹ that is manufactured for women from 'broken countries'¹ to keep us at an exotically attainable distance. Exotic dudes are generally just pouty and exude potent sexuality, capable of letting the 'inner beast' -- of course all exotic dudes are animals inside! Who said colonial tropes have to die anyway? -- possess them into taking the WhiteWashed Lilly of a Woman for an erotic journey, but exotic ladies or the 'Eternal She' is always in a position of subordination. If the Dusty Lady is not in a submissive position, sexually or otherwise, then she is either Westernised or has 2 parts English ancestry, which makes her not 'authentically' Dusty anyway, so giving her quasi agency doesn't upset the world order. From the druggedtame Auoda who is rescued by the adventurous White Man,  to say Peter Walsh's Daisy whom he leaves behind in India² as he re-forms his ties with Clarissa Dalloway, and all women that I can't name right now, so many whose names we've erased away, all fit into the shoes of this 'Eternal She': Eternally passive, eternally waiting for the White man to rescue her, or just make her more than a minor background detail in the narrative. Her 'ethnic' identity comes through from her 'native garb' that she loses through the course of the narrative, to something more civilised as a dress or a skirt. In my mind's eye, eventually their skin goes white as well. In this way, ‘Ethnic’ dress becomes interchangeable with tradition and essentialism, and the female body enters an unstable arena of scrutiny and meaning, till you can change 'Ethnic' with 'Woman' with 'Body' and come away with the same image, ready for consumption at will!

Christmas Vagina Song

You ever see a video on youtube and say WTF?  Well, I don't have the words to talk about this, so I am leaving it up to you. (Video is NSFW)

It Seems Mel Gibson Has Been An Anti-Semitic Homophobe For Awhile

I believe that it is well accepted in the public discourse that Gibson is a megadouche.  After the release of the infamous tapes, a number of celebrities came to his defense (I'm looking at you Whoopi and you Jody Foster).  According to the New York Post, Winona Ryder had a few choice words to say about Gibson.
"Black Swan" star Winona Ryder remembers Mel Gibson being "anti-Semitic and homophobic" long before his taped racist rants were broadcast across the world. "Fifteen years ago, I was at one of those big Hollywood parties. And he was really drunk," Ryder tells the January issue of GQ. "I was with my friend, who's gay. [Gibson] made a really horrible gay joke. And somehow it came up that I was Jewish. He said something about 'oven dodgers,' but I didn't get it. I'd never heard that before. It was just this weird, weird moment. I was like, 'He's anti-Semitic and he's homophobic.' No one believed me!" (source)
I found what Ryder had to say very interesting.  In a group of his peers, Gibson had plausible deniability.  The kinds of views that he has, rarely just develop suddenly and certainly are not repressed.  Men like Gibson often give many clues as to who they are, long before it becomes an issues socially, that is if it ever does.  Maya Angelou once famously said, "when people show you who they are, believe them the first time".We have a tendency to ignore a single comment or find an excuse for it, but in truth, such actions are indicative of  a central belief pattern. An inebriated person does not suddenly shout out a homophobic or Anti-Semitic rant, unless such beliefs are deep seated.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

43 Days in Jail For Beating A Black Woman While Using Racial Slurs

In September of 2009, I first wrote about the beating of  U.S. service member Tasha Hill at the Morrow Cracker Barrel restaurant by Troy West. Her daughter was 7 years old at the time and she watched helplessly, as her mother was beaten.  Both Hill and her daughter still suffer from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident.

During West's trial, it was Hill who was treated as though she were the guilty party.  The defense continually alluded to her "character," suggesting that previous incidents of anger on the part of Hill somehow contributed to West beating her that day.  It was classic victim blaming and suggested that  a woman who is not docile, needs to be beaten to remind her of her role in society.  When we consider that Hill is a Black woman and West is a White man, it makes the suggestion that much more problematic.  Race and gender played a huge role in how this terrible incident of violence was understood.

Equality and Constructed Rights

WoodTurtle is a Canadian Muslim feminist currently using her extended maternity leave to explore developments of Islamic feminism in the Western and Muslim world.  As a woman who wears the hijab (owns several abayas and a niqab monogrammed with her initials in pink, sparkly sequins), she writes frequently on genderized Islamophobia. She also works toward dispelling myths and stereotypes about women in Islam for both Muslims and non.
It doesn't take long for me to regain my commuting feet. Everyone is tired, cold and jaded. But I have a spring in my step and navigate the crowd like a pro -- pushing through to get to my stop. It's been over a year since I've made the trek to the downtown core for work, and I'm exhilarated. It's time for the annual office Christmas party.

New mothers who are slated to return to work within the new year are invited and expected to attend. It's good office politics to meet old and new colleagues, get caught up on office gossip, and schmooze. But it's impossible not to feel like you're just there to be judged and observed. Is your mind a mashup of children's rhymes? Have you forgotten how to write policy or code? Have you even kept up on business developments?

Within minutes of arriving I have two people ask me if I'm pregnant, and it's not because of my body shape. When I push through to meet the CEO, I have my witty retort ready: "Oh K, it's wonderful to see you! What's new? Pregnant yet?" "Yes. With twins."

My deadpan response elicits an appropriate level of polite laughter. But there's so much left unsaid by my colleagues. I spend the rest of the night playing the good and intelligent office worker -- yet no one seems interested that I'm writing and thinking critically while I'm owning mommyhood. I'm obviously not on the same level, or even worth assessing by those in a position of authority. I'm just a mommy and no longer a sharp, career-driven, Bay Street worker.  I'm completely defined by what may or may not be in my womb.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ben Brown of the BBC Accuses A Disabled Man of Causing Police Brutality

I did not write about the recent protest in England, in which Prince Charles and Camilla had the temerity to drive though, but I did follow the news.  In the same uprising, the police decided to drag a disabled journalist out of his chair. What follows is the BBC interview with Jody McIntyre.

No Rules Rules For Jada and Will's Kids

I was reading Bossip (yes I know that one day it will rot my brain), when I came across a story about the Smith's parenting perspective.  It seems that Jada and Will (yes I am using her name first on purpose), have a non authoritarian style of parenting.
“We don’t have rules,” Willow’s mom, Jada Pinkett Smith, told Style magazine. “We come up with agreements. Kids are little people, and we’re in life to guide them. Trying to rule someone is always an illusion — and it’s no different with children.”

Most kids would argue they didn’t need to be punished if they did something wrong — much like we did as kids! — but the “Whip My Hair” singer has learned a lot in her decade on Earth.

Jada recalled a time when Willow disobeyed her parents and set up a page on a social networking site: “I told her not to, so I was so mad. I said, ‘What do you think I should do now?’ So Willow said, ‘Mom, take my computer away’. And I said, ‘How long for?’ She said a month.” Seriously? What kid does that?!

“I’m not saying it’s always perfect,” Jada admitted. (source)
As per usual, the Bossip commenters were full of negatives, but I really find their approach to parenting interesting.   Though we claim to be empowering children to be responsible adults, authoritarian style parenting actually does quite the opposite of its intent.  Not having specific rules, does not mean that there isn't a form of structure in place.  I think what people find so difficult about the concept of no rules, is that it thwarts hierarchy and begins with the position that children are little people deserving of respect.

White People Sure Are Sensitive About Black Hair

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Tangled, the new Disney Princess movie.  It was recently linked to by a White supremacist site and I would like to share with some of the comments I chose not to publish.

Ummah Gummah: IDIOTS. HATEFUL RACIST IDIOTS.   Rapunzel is a GERMAN fairytale. Blond hair and blue eyes are fairly common in Germany. Get over yourselves. Get a life. 

Michael Dean Miller: Oh for the Love of God... will black people stop comparing themselves to whites and just try to be themselves!? If some folks like white women and blonde hair more than black and kinky.... well, get over it. Does Garth Brookes complain about low country music CD sales in Harlem? Probably not. He moves on and does he thing elsewhere. Take the hint. are so unbelievably full of shit. rapunzel comes from a german fairy tale. her hair is blond. should we just change history so you can get over your own personal inferiority complex? no little girl is reading so much into this... black or white. you just hate yourself and seek to project it on everything else around you. you try to blame it on "society". patterns can be found anywhere we look.

here's an idea. whenever i hear the story of martin luther king jr, i just get so upset that such a hero is always portrayed as a black man. lets make a movie and have him cast as a blond haired man! then my feelings can be saved! historicity be damned!

get a real job, find a real hobby, get your head out of your ass, and buy some self help books.

Paul: Look, this just from a guy's perspective: Long flowing shiny hair on a woman IS beautiful. There's no sense in pretending that it's not. Conversely, coarse, kinky brillo-pad hair is NOT beautiful. There's no sense in pretending that it is.   

Alexandra: I have nice, long, brown hair and I don't see a problem. I'm not ashamed to be white and I'm not ashamed to be a brunette!  

These are just a small example of the comments the post received before I decided to close down the thread, because I could no longer deal with looking at how ugly the pure ignorance and utter racism was. After much thought, I decided to publish a select few to enable a discussion about hair and the way that bodies are understood.

As can be seen by the comments above, questioning the continual representation  of Whiteness in the media is understood as threatening.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, non Hispanic White people account for 65.1% of the population.  This number is quickly diminishing further heightening the fear of a loss of power. Whiteness as seen in pop culture is problematic because it is pervasive.  It further emboldens the idea that people of colour or without value and that our lives should not be explored.

What Do You Want for Your Children?

I am a 36 year old disabled woman who has been variously labeled "fat", "crazy", and "a hippie weirdo." I now try to embrace labels that others use in an attempt to "shame" me into being someone more "acceptable". I am passionate about issues of race/racism, criminal (in)justice, fat acceptance, and mental health advocacy. I blog at My Name Is JuJuBe and I am on the team at The Intersection of Madness and Reality

Almost any time you ask a parent what they want for their children, their answer includes "I want my children to do better than me." It is usually left at that. People typically understand that statement in terms of material goods... "I want my child to have a bigger house than me" or "I want my child to make more money than me" or "I want my child to have a more prestigious career than me" Parents want monetary success for their children. They want their children to go to the "right" schools, marry the "right" spouse, live in the "right" house and have the "right" career. What often gets overlooked is the idea of wanting their children to do the "right" thing.

I do not yet have children, but when I dream of my children, I DO want them to be better than me. I want them to be better PEOPLE than me. I want them to CARE MORE about others than me. I want them to BE MORE OPEN MINDED than me. I want them to SMILE more than me. And I want them to MAKE A DIFFERENCE more than I have. I want them to be HAPPIER than me. And I do not believe that monetary and material gains will bring about that happiness.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Spark Of Wisdom: I Am Not Your Gay Toy

This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky. 

Do you know what? There are some things that are repeatedly said to me, that really set my teeth on edge. They really really annoy me, to a point where one day I am sure my head will explode out of sheer irritation. It will be messy. I must remember to bring plastic sheeting.

They annoy me beyond reason. I mean, even more than Beloved seasoning food after I've cooked it?

Even more than him putting things away while I'm still using them.

Even more than door-to-door annoyers knocking on my door at 9:00am on a Sunday morning.
EVEN more than the damn 10 feet of snow (possible exaggeration) that has kept me housebound and made me miss a holiday (and, to make matters worse, certain Canadians aren't snowed in despite my frequent comments about polar bears, igloos and wintry wastelands). 
The following is a list (that will be so non-inclusive, because I'm remembering more, as I write this), of some of the things that people not only say around me - but say around me so often, that I may carry little cards around with answers pre-written. Or maybe engraved onto the head of an axe. Yes, I think I'll go with axe.

"You're so cute together!"

Kids playing dress up are cute.

Small, fluffy animals are cute.

Maybe your children going on their first date are cute.

Couples that have lived together for the best part of a decade? "Cute" (or "sweet") isn't the adjective. It's demeaning. It's diminishing. It's reminiscent of patting a kid on the head who has learned a new trick.

Killing Us Softly: Advertising's Image of Women

I know that I am really late to this video by Jean Kilbourne, but it really struck a nerve and I thought there might be some who have not seen it.

No Going Into Labour in Public

It seems that comedian Chris Rock was out doing some shopping, when a pregnant woman's water broke in front of him.
Many fellas might have been grossed out, but Rock — a father of two — rushed to help. He started cracking jokes, amusing the mom-to-be (who had to have been mortified; isn't this every pregnant woman's worst nightmare?) and the throng of rubbernecking shoppers until paramedics arrived. (emphasis mine)

"He was making the crowd and the woman in labor laugh," an eyewitness told Us. "She recognized who he was immediately and he stayed there until the paramedics took her away." (source)
I saw this little snippet and it irked me.  At first I wasn't sure what it was, I just knew that I didn't like it at all. Why is your water breaking in a clearly public place deemed a nightmare - something that women should be ashamed of?  It seems that no matter what the female biological function is, shame is always attached it.  We are shamed for having periods, told repeatedly that our vagina's smell, directed to control our bowel movements with yogurt and all manner of products, and yet rarely to never do I see this kind of detailed attention dedicated to male bodies. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Covenant House Texas Update-Cristan's Thoughts About The CH Secret Shopper Investigation

This is a guest post From the fabulous Monica of Transgriot.  It is a follow up on a previous post regarding the hostility of Covenant House to TLBG you.

TransGriot Note:  Covenant House Texas and Mr. Mike, to borrow a line from former President Ronald Reagan, 'trust but verify'.    

Frankly you and your people at CHT have not earned the trust of the Houston TBIGL community based on your past decade long actions, your organization's connections to an increasingly homophobic and transphobic Catholic Church and your stonewalling this community and Councilmember Jones for months as to why you have not come up with a written policy that will codify what the Houston community has asked for.

What have we asked for?   A policy that explicitly states how TBLGI kids will be treated at CHT, makes clear they will be respected and protected while in the program, the created policy has teeth and penalties for violation of it up to and including termination.   

Because otherwise, 'Fairness' is just a word subject to your goalpost shifting interpretation.

And now, here's Cristan.

Many of you know that Council Member Jones hosted a come to Jesus talk at City Hall between several community leaders and a Covenant House representative yesterday  (December 9). If you follow my FaceBook, you know it was a really intense meeting that lasted almost 3 hours. The Covenant House representative made a number of claims about how GLB and especially T kids are treated there. These claims were in direct opposition to what many of us have witnessed over this last decade.

Since the Covenant House representative seemed dismissive of much of what we claimed to have observed over the years. She was also dismissive of what is located at .

So, today (December 10) I called Covenant House intake as a secret shopper and was told that the policy is that TG kids are identified by what is on their ID - that staff will not use preferred names and/or pronouns. This is the exact opposite of what the Covenant House represented was true at the meeting yesterday at Council Member Jones' office. Additionally, I spoke to "Mr. Mike" in intake. I specifically asked to speak with him because I've had reports that he tends to treat TG kids more harshly than non-TG kids.

When I asked if my MTF client would be recognized by their preferred name, he said, "they will be treated fairly." When I asked if my MTF client had any chance whatsoever of being housed with the other females, he said, "they will be treated fairly." When I asked if my MTF client would be recognized by their preferred gender pronouns, he said, "they will be treated fairly." When I asked what he meant by fairness, he said, "fairness." We went round and around. I would ask specific policy questions and he would dodge the question by saying that everyone is treated "fairly." When I pointed out that his notion of fairness might be different than what the client's notion of fairness was he said, "I've answered your question. They will be treated fairly." When I asked if he could tell me what the policy was for working with transgender kids, he said CH does not discriminate and that everyone would be treated fairly. During the entire conversation, he never once answered my actual question.

Whoopi Goldberg Does Fat Phobic Disableist Extravaganza On 'The View'

 For a very longtime, I very much wanted to like Whoopi Goldberg.  It is not often that one sees a dark skinned woman in the media, much less a dark skinned woman with natural hair.  Over time I have come to see that Whoopi is no role model, and certainly exists with several issues.  From her "rape rape" comment, defending superstar megadouche Mel Gibson, to encouraging Ted Danson to wear Blackface as a joke, Whoopi has become not a comedy of errors, but a hot mess of errors.

This morning I was watching The View, when Goldberg decided to go on yet another insensitive rant, this time attacking fat people and disabled people.  Please note, I am well aware that these are not mutually exclusive identities.  The following is a transcript of her rant, which I was able to capture thanks to the pause live TV option with Bell television.

Australian Store Removes Mammy Doll For Oprah Visit

Well, it seems that though some Australians claim that they don't understand the North American standard of racism, some do a very good job of perpetuating it.  Last year, Harry Connick Jr. had to tell Hey Hey It's Saturday Night, that Blackface is extremely offensive.  I won't suggest for one moment that the Australian experience of racism mirrors that of North America; however, when it comes to people of color, the naivety that is often expressed, leaves one incredulous, when examples of said racism become public knowledge.

Oprah is currently in Australia, on a tour paid for by Australian tourism, with her audience members.
Oprah Winfrey’s production company has reportedly asked a Melbourne shop to remove golliwog “washerwoman” dolls from display so that they would not offend the talk show host and her guests.

The storeowner declined to comment because she had signed a confidentiality agreement with Harpo productions, but confirmed a meeting had taken place.

“Oprah’s people came … and yes it was discussed,” the Daily Telegraph quoted a source familiar with the agreement as saying. “As a result, they won’t have that particular doll on display. But there will be plenty of other gollies when they come through.”

A spokeswoman for Winfrey’s Ultimate Adventure declined to comment, but Tourism Victoria claims neither it, nor Harpo Productions, had told the shop owner to remove the doll. (source)

The only purpose of a doll like that is to demean Black women.  Though no one will confirm the story, if Oprah's staff did indeed request the dolls removal, it is highly understandable; however, its removal gives a false impression of race to the viewers watching.  The following are images of the other dolls that are available for purchase at the store in question.

White People Educating POC On Racism

On the sidebar of this blog is my e-mail address.  There are days, I very much wish to remove it, because some people think that they should use it to reach out personally, and tell me about just how ignorant I am.  This weekend, I had the pleasure of receiving two such e-mails from White privilege deniers.  In the best of times, I don't have much patience for this obvious racism, but in this case, I decided to pursue the conversation, because I realized it would make a great post to share with you.  I am going to post sections of each letter for your consideration.

The first snippet comes from Gabriel Alan Cessna regarding my recent disapproval of the Whip My Hair song by a young White girl.
It's very comforting knowing that every now and then I can talk to and interact with a cornucopia of people from all over the world and be enveloped with a culturally rich environment.

I've lived in this area my whole life, and if it wasn't obvious from what I just wrote, this is a very great place to be raised without being subject to prejudice or bigotry.  Your post about black people not being able to talk about their hair is absolutely disgusting, especially considering the area you currently inhabit.  Are you so radically ignorant to the number of racial diversity in Western New York that just by stepping outside in the Buffalo region you'd be immersed in the culture and mutual respect by all citizens of this area for each other regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or culture?  Do you leave your home?  Do you watch the news?  One of the proudest things I can say about Western New York is that I have been raised, not only myself, but nearly every single individual I've grown up with to be tolerant and accepting of other people.  You should be more than ashamed of yourself.

The entire point of the white woman covering the song by Willow Smith was to give it a twist that was culturally reflective and personally satisfying to the individual.  If you looked at the amount of views of Willow's YouTube video in contrast to the young white woman's video you would notice they are starkly differing in popularity.  You of all people should be accepting, and are in fact propagating your own racism by even considering the cover to be racially motivated. You are truly a disgusting human being.